Skip to main content

Turkey: U.S. helped in PKK attack

  • Story Highlights
  • Air strikes against Kurd militants were result of intelligence by the U.S.
  • PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey
  • Turkey: "There is no doubt" the PKK infrastructure has been severely weakened
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkey's ambassador to the United States said Wednesday his country's air strikes this week against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq were the result of real-time, actionable intelligence provided by the United States.

A Turkish commando on patrol near the Turkey-Iraq border.

"No doubt this was possible because of information provided by the United States of America," Nabi Sensoy told reporters.

Sensoy said the operations were "tangible results" of enhanced cooperation between the two countries since a visit to Washington last month by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which U.S. President George W. Bush promised the United States would do all it could to help Turkey fight the threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), including providing intelligence on PKK targets.

The PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey, with some of its attacks staged from locations in northern Iraq. The United States and European Union consider the group a terrorist organization.

Responding to reports that Turkey didn't give the United States enough notice before the attack, he said the United States was informed by the Turkish military about the operation and the two sides "are in constant contact."

Although it will take time to assess the damage to the PKK and the casualties, Sensoy said "there is no doubt" the PKK infrastructure has been severely weakened.

"This is not a once and for all operation, but I think it has served its purpose because all targets have been hit," he said. "The ultimate target is the elimination of the PKK operation."

Iraq's U.S.-backed government condemned the Turkish raids, saying they "add insult to injury."

The head of northern Iraq's Kurdish regional government boycotted a Baghdad meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to protest U.S. support for the Turkish attacks.

The United States has been pushing for tri-lateral cooperation with the government of Iraq, but Sensoy said such cooperation "had not produced any tangible results" to date.

Erdogan called Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Tuesday, Sensoy said. Zebari told Erdogan that the Iraqis understand Turkish concerns about the PKK, and that the Iraqi government doesn't want the group on its soil.

"This shows we are all speaking the same language that the PKK must be eliminated," Sensoy said.

But he blasted the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, which he said is not living up to its responsibility to crack down on the PKK.

"The fact is that the PKK presence in northern Iraq could not have survived in northern Iraq without some assistance of course," he said. "The regional government must assume its responsibility.

Sensoy added that Turkey was "puzzled" by the Kurdish response to Turkish concerns, because Turkey was "very helpful to Iraqi Kurds during the first Gulf War."

"We didn't get the cooperation we thought we deserved from the Kurdish regional government," he said. "Our expectations have not been fulfilled by the northern authorities so far."

He did note that there have been "some signs" of increased responsibility by the KRG in recent weeks, possibly a result of US pressure.

Turkey wants the KRG to stop giving logistical support to the PKK, stop giving the group airtime on its broadcast networks and ban it from creating "front parties" to take part in Kurdish elections, he said.

Sensoy said that the United States has promised to send an inspector to northern Iraq to investigate charges that U.S. weapons were ending up in the hands of PKK rebels.


Sensoy said that Turkish "resentment" toward the United States over a perceived lack of support on the PKK issue and a House committee vote declaring the Ottoman-era killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians a "genocide," a sensitive topic among Turks, had subsided and the two countries remain "friends and allies" that cooperate on many issues.

He said Turkey was "very happy" with the current level of support from the United States and was "relieved" the Armenian genocide resolution didn't pass the full U.S. House floor, which "diverted damage" to U.S.-Turkish relations. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print